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News archive for 2008

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02/12/2008

Unfortunately, things haven't been going quite so swimmingly on the animal front. We have three fewer lambs than we had this time last week: two August lambs died from worms and one March lamb from a funny cough (I kept warning her to give up the secret ciggies behind the bushes).

The younger lambs were really frustrating as we would normally worm them a couple of months after birth as the presence of worm egg cases on the grazing (non-farming people: not earthworms) increases in May. However, due to the mild winter, they were obviously still present and active even in November. We like to think we help keep the Dead Stock Collection Scheme running! Anyway, everything has been wormed that possibly can be now.

We have also just had to start buying milk again. Gilly has stopped giving us any, which is a good thing as hopefully she (and Gemma) will be in kid again now she has taken a trip over to see the Billy (now there's a story I could tell). Georgina (our replacement goat for Samuel) has settled in really well, but we will not be breeding from her so she can continue doing visits with us.

Borat has gone back home, hopefully leaving our three sows in pig ready for farrowing at the end of January, all in time for our Annual Open Day on Easter Monday 13th April 2009. This will be held again at Holybourne Theatre (by kind permission). Full details to follow in the new year.

[Christmas Dinner] Meanwhile, the turkeys are looking absolutely splendid - displaying nicely and they have been enjoying a few visits out with MCFE. Little do they know what's in store...! All the turkeys have been claimed already, and there is a waiting list - we must try to hatch more out next year!

Look out for us next week when we are in attendance at the Alton Craft Market - Saturday 13th December. We also hope to be present at the craft / farmers' markets next year - watch this space!

Have a very happy Christmas and best wishes for the new year!

17/11/2008

Mill Cottage Farm Experience is now accreditated by FACE (Farming & Countryside Education) for CEVAS (Countryside Educational Visits Accreditation Scheme). This means our personnel know the National Curriculum inside out and can plan sessions that fit with the curriculum as well as having the skills to pass this knowledge onto children. (As an ex-full time teacher this wasn't too difficult to achieve!)

31/10/2008

The seasons flow round so quickly, it has surprised us once again. We have been moving the sheep around the various fields in order that Abraham is once again with his ladies. We are hoping for lambs at the end of March. George is not missing out this time - he has got Helen and Florence visiting him at the moment as they did not produce lambs in the summer.

Borat the boar has also come to visit. He can be seen (the ginger one!) with Faith, Hope and Charity from the footpath between Upper Neatham Mill Lane and Mill Lane (near Focus). We are hoping for piglets in January. They have cleared that area really well, revealing the local dumping ground it once was. We have found all sorts of rubbish ranging from copious amounts of glassware of various shapes, sizes and states of repair to intricate pieces of rusting metal. Needless to say, it has now been shipped down to Alton tip - no doubt another trip will be made once the pigs have unearthed more rubbish on their travels. Attached is a picture of one of the not so small piglets from the June litter, enjoying a back scratch, as well as the three adult sows with Borat!

In addition, we had a surprise last week when we went to feed the smaller animals - instead of just two guinea pigs in the hutch, there were three. We have named the baby "Beauty" - although we have yet to discover whether it is male or female!

Sadly, we had to have Samuel the goat kid put down at the end of September due to a complication with a hernia, but we have been given a replacement - another female called Georgina. She is the same age as Samuel was, but we will not breed from her. We are waiting for Gilly & Gemma to come into season in order for them to take a trip to see the Billy!

Despite a busy halfterm week, filled with bookings, MCFE is beginning to slow down for the winter, at least from a farm bookings point of view. We are still very much in evidence at local fundraising events - see our stall at Andrews Endowed Christmas Fete on Saturday 29th November, The Pre Christmas Sale at Treloars on 7th November and we are at the Holybourne Guides Children in Need Fundraiser on Friday 14th November. Please support us at these events as 10% of takings will be given to the charities concerned. In addition, our calendars are still on sale. Support Holybourne Shop - they receive commission for every calendar sold!

We have some pictures from the Epilepsy Bereaved Fayre on 18th Oct. It raised over £900, of which over £500 went to Epilepsy Bereaved in memory of Becky Scrivens and over £400 to Bentley Primary School, who hosted the event, to put towards a new school hall.

27/09/2008

Good news first: we have had another successful day of bookings - Sarah to a birthday party in Hedge End and Tom to a Community Centre Fair in Basingstoke. All the animals enjoyed a good day out in the sunshine.

However, on arriving home (6.10pm), Samuel our goat kid was showing obvious signs of distress. He hadn't had problems at the birthday booking - indeed he had been jumping all over the straw bales kindly put out for the children to sit on!

Samuel has had what looked like a hernia since birth and the vet had said a few months back that either we operate (and castrate him at the same time, leaving a non-breeding goat) or, as he is not in distress, leave it be and see how things go. The vet had clearly demonstrated that Samuel's bladder was out between his testicles: the demonstration resulted in us being sprayed with urine. We decided to leave it, hoping to make goat curry in October.

This was not to be. We rang the emergency vet (6.20pm) and by 6.40pm we were in the vet's with Samuel sedated, making the decision as to what to do next. We decided to investigate further rather than putting him down, and Tom and I suddenly began our careers as Vet Nurses. At least we were right there and present to make decisions as things went along. Unfortunately, once everything was open, it was clear that it was far more complicated than a normal hernia, and the work required would be too invasive and with no guarantee of success. Reluctantly, (8pm) we decided the best thing for Samuel was to put him down.

We were so pleased, that, despite us losing another of our pets, and it happening out of hours on a Saturday, it happened now rather than next week when we hope to be away on our "summer" holiday and Mum & Dad are house/pet sitting. We are very grateful to Martin, the vet at Cedar Vets, for having a go - sorry we brought him out on a Saturday night and we hope he isn't in too much strife with the family!

Well, that's it for now - hopefully our next news will be better: there is good news quite often - and I still wouldn't change jobs! Who's want a desk job? Or be stuck in four walls every day?!

19/09/2008

Should we be branching out into a new area of business?!

We were asked by a groom recently to appear early in the morning at his future father-in-law's house with our three goats in order to pay his "dowry" and get married to the gentleman's daughter.

We aim to please - here are the pictures to prove it!

We wish the Ella & Sam all the best in their married life together.

10/09/2008

I'm afraid the news didn't get any better. The ewe didn't make it through the night so now we have to await the Dead Stock Collection Scheme to collect her as we are not allowed to dispose of her ourselves. I think we kind of knew late last night when we went to give her another dose of glucose as well as stronger antibiotic/antiinflammatory. Even with two of us helping, she couldn't take any weight on her legs, so we propped her up as best we could and made her comfy in the straw.

If anyone asks why we shear sheep, it's not because we want the wool. That's pretty much worthless anyway. If anyone asks why we put rubber rings around lambs' tails so they drop off, it's not because we are cruel. Who would think a small creature like a fly could cause so much trouble? But the swift turnaround of fly - egg - maggot - septicaemia means unless it's caught immediately, there is little hope.

We do end up asking ourselves what more we could have done. But we had rounded them all up and given them an MOT on Thurs eve - hoof trim, worming, and checking for fly strike. We didn't notice anything then, yet 48 hours later she was absolutely infested. I wonder how farmers with large flocks manage - or maybe as they aren't pets, losing one or two doesn't worry them in the same way?

Yes, she was "only" a sheep, and she wasn't perhaps our best breeder but you do get attached to them! She had Caroline the first year - who now has the new born twins herself at present. She had one surviving twin Duncan the second year. This year she aborted in February. I do feel I have spent a great deal of time with her - I was there when she delivered the twins, one live, one dead. I was the one that found her with the aborted twins - and I've been the one trying to get glucose down her these last few days.

We are now investing in some proper shearing equipment in order for us to take off all the rest of the wool from the other ewes. For now though, it's time for a cuppa tea...

09/09/2008

So you want to know how the story continued...?!

All seemed well on Monday morning, but by 7pm we had spotted another maggoty area on Janet. How she has managed to get it quite so bad, we don't know. The warm, damp weather has been a nightmare from the fly strike point of view.

Anyway, I had to postpone my arrival home last night due to an evening commitment, and once again start hacking away at more wool. Actually, not much hacking was required as by this time, the wool was just peeling off. Again we treated her.

I arrive back home just after 10pm and go to check her and we find yet another patch. By now, the shears have gone blunt (both pairs), we have run out of antiseptic spray (for open wounds) and my patience is also thin. Janet has not eaten for three days and has the shakes. I lie awake for much of the night thinking I am covered in maggots... I try hard to think of other things, but somehow it always leads back to flies & maggots.

Tuesday morning - Janet is still alive! It's straight to the helpful chaps in Farm and Country stores on the Selbourne road for a new sharp pair of shears, (and details of an electric shearing kit!), more antiseptic (purple) spray and some glucose drench. I have now taken off the rest of the wool - no more maggots - hooray! But have you ever tried administering 75ml of glucose drench (via mouth) using a syringe that only takes 20ml?! Suffice to say, Janet is so weak, she doesn't really put up a struggle, and although some of it dribbles out, I am sure I got most of it down her throat. It's wait and see time now... Again, there are pictures in the gallery. The purple & blue colouring is from the treatment we have given her - it will grow out eventually!

Life on the farm isn't always as idyllic as some people think. Neither is running your own business. Don't get me wrong - I love the lifestyle, and I love the freedom of being my own boss, but sometimes it's hard, heartbreaking work. I am glad I can go and watch the young lambs skipping and jumping - it makes things just seem that bit better. That's why I've added a photo of them to cheer us up!

In other news, we received over 52kg of pork back from the two boars we sent off, and also just over 17kg of lamb, so after a brief panic regarding freezer space, we managed to cope! Tom is pleased with the successful uptake of his "Prepare Your Own Christmas Turkey" course, and is also planning to run a "Keeping Your Own Poultry" and "Keeping Your Own Pigs" courses, both at the Sustainability Centre near East Meon. We will keep you posted!

We have had two sets of twins from George's Girls - Poll Dorsets really can lamb all year round. Well done George! They are enjoying gambolling around the small field. All the rest of our ewes are now in the big field.

Looking to the future, Mill Cottage Farm Experience has launched the "Year on the Farm" 2009 Holybourne Calendar and the A4 version (£5) is now available in the Village Shop. The A3 version (£8) will be available soon.

We look forward to seeing you at the Epilepsy Bereaved Charity Fair on Saturday 18th October at Bentley School. Gates open from 11am - 4pm. Other public events can be found on our events page.

08/09/2008

This weekend has been firmly renamed a "Bad Weekend". This was to have been our big advertising / selling opportunity at The Alresford Show. Many of these shows (eg the Alton Show) are on Sundays, so it was ideal that we found one relatively close that does the show on a Saturday. Weeks of preparation (actually months, as the second lot of lambing was timed so that we had newborn lambs to take)... buying in new stock... making sure we had everything tip-top... finishing Buttercup the (wooden) Milking Cow... and Pin the Tail on Percival the Pig...

And then it rained... and rained... and rained! Determined as ever, Tom and I, along with three of our staff drove down to the show ground early on Saturday morning to be told, just before the showground entrance, that the whole thing had just been called off as the ground was under water!

Anyway, as we hadn't even got onto the show ground, we turned back for home, where we contacted Lasham Air Show (just outside Alton) and asked if they fancied having a farm to entertain the crowds... so we spent the day showing the lambs and other animals, giving out flyers, selling items of stock, stopping the gazebo taking off and providing shelter to the crowds when the heavens opened! We also witnessed a fantastic attempt on a Guinness World Record.

We got home in time to catch and shear two sheep who had the worst cases of flystrike we have ever seen, ring the emergency vet for some antibiotics as we felt the sheep may not make it, followed by pizza takeaway as none of us could face a chinese with all that rice... Sunday morning, both sheep are still walking about, but we find two more with the same thing... more shearing and also rounded up the whole flock and treated them all... looking forward to a day off today!

There are pictures in the gallery. I am glad the pictures of the flystrike are slightly fuzzy: fuzzy maggots look better than clear ones! Rosie, Gill, Sam and Jenny can now bear witness that flystrike is disgusting. I have included a picture of the pigs just to cheer us all up!

It's certainly never quiet round here! Keep up to date here which will soon include details of our MCFE Calendars - now available.

28/08/2008

So now we know that Poll Dorsets really can lamb all year round, and that George has done his job! We have five ewes in our Flock II and they were due to give birth from the beginning of last week. They chose their moment well, with Tom at work in Farnham with no car and me in Kew Gardens with my family! Thankfully, we have very good & observant neighbours, who happened to have Tom's mobile number, and he jumped on the next train home in order to check that Caroline and her two ewe lambs, Holly & Ivy were ok! See the gallery for picture.

We hope Mum & Lambs will be on show on our stand at the Alresford Show on Saturday 6th September, as well as many of our other animals. We also hope to launch our first MCFE calendar! Maybe we'll see you there?

14/08/2008

Two of the piglets have gone off to their new home (as pets!) this evening - I can't believe they are eight weeks old already! Two more will be leaving at the end of the month, also going to be pets. The other three boys will be allowed to grow to adulthood with us, enjoying visits with MCFE before following Faith into the freezer. Faith's sausages (all 48kg of them - although we haven't personally eaten them all) have certainly tasted good, so we look forward to other pig products as and when they become available. Next week the two boars from Hope's first litter will take a trip to Aldershot, along with Mozart the lamb. They will come back to Brock's Farm Shop to be chopped and then back to our freezer. We are now regularly eating meals that are home grown - with current supermarket prices, this can only be a good thing, as well as tasting much better!

The egg production team have started to go on strike, which is a shame as they were fulfilling egg orders of up to 60 eggs a week up until a month ago. Meanwhile, we have sold a few turkeys for people to rear their own Christmas Dinner. Tom has had a fair amount of interest in the Prepare Your Own Turkey Course, but we did hatch out quite a number so there are still a few turkeys available. The course would be held a day or two before Christmas Day, probably in an evening. Tom would dispatch the turkey and then each one would be bought, gutted and plucked by its new owner before being taken home for 25th December! Mulled Wine will be available. With no obligation at this point, can we get an idea of numbers? Contact us here or on 01420 86206.

[Testing cheese] We were fortunate enough to be invited to visit Dairy Crest's Hartington Cheese Factory in Derbyshire at the end of July. We enjoyed a full tour from when the milk enters the vats to tasting the Stilton at the end - an amazing amount of technology, as it is all computer controlled - and the finished product tasted good too! It makes our small scale attempts with goats cheese look insignificant, but the process is actually identical. A shame about the fetching outfit we had to wear, but we came away not only with a selection of delicious samples, but also with lots of ideas for when we take MCFE into upper primary and secondary schools.

Back at home and after eight weeks of disruption, Thames Water and their contractors have finally finished mending the broken sewage pipe and clearing up after themselves. We have a smart new fence, a beautifully fenced beech tree, the ewes are back in the field and the grass seed has started to grow. I wonder if the portaloo will eventually leave us and then the view can return to the peaceful state it was?

The ewes that have just returned to the big field should be lambing from mid August. Two of them look distinctly rotund so we are listening out for the bleat of tiny lambs. We hope they arrive in good time as we would like to have them with us when we attend the Alresford Show on Saturday 6th September (9am - 6pm) - we look forward to seeing you there! We will be launching our first MCFE "Year of Farming" Calendar there - look out for it on our stand at the Alresford Show, other events we attend and also Holybourne Village Shop!

04/08/2008

Look out for our very own Mill Cottage Farm Experience calendar!
On sale from the beginning of September, it features our animals and scenes from the farming year. A4, with 13 full colour photographs. Price to be announced. Limited edition - reserve your copy now!

27/06/2008

It was good to meet lots of science teachers at the Association for Science Education, where we were encouraging the use of school grounds and using animals as a learning resource both academically and socially.

We launched our Hatch a Chick incubator hire service and had lots of interest in this.

There was also some interest in working with Initial Teacher Training colleges and also Secondary schools visiting farms directly so that the pupils/new teachers can experience a working farm and learn about how food is produced. We are looking at ways of developing this area, so if you are interested, please contact us and we will put a programme together.

25/06/2008

Well, the long awaited names of the new piglets have been announced. Just don't ask me which one is which...

They are: Bashful, Doc, Dopey, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Sneezy. Well, what else could they be with seven of them?!

19/06/2008

8am: This morning Tom went to milk the goat as usual and found Hope surrounded by seven piglets. Unfortunately one was dead but the others are all looking very healthy. One more was born while we watched and then we quietly withdrew to let Hope get on with it as she is a natural! Faith was lying down in the other corner of their straw pen not in the least perturbed by the arrival of tiny pattering feet.

It really makes you wonder about commercial pig rearing: we just allow nature to take its course. We do not use farrowing crates or any other such artificial areas. The pigs are simply left in a large straw shelter with full access to each other.

We have done a quick check and it looks like we have four boys and three girls so far. See the gallery for pictures.

16/06/2008

As I type, I am sitting here sipping homemade Elderflower Cordial - it is the perfect time of year to get outside and reap nature's harvest... sounds difficult? The hardest thing will be getting Citric Acid from the chemist. The rest is easy... follow the recipe. There are heaps of other elderflower recipes - try it with fresh gooseberries which are also almost ready now. There is much activity in the allotment with all manner of things coming up (not just weeds I hasten to add!) and we are busy picking fresh rhubarb regularly.

Meanwhile on the animal front, we have had Christmas Dinner hatch and come out on various visits with us already - we had 13 chicks hatch which was slightly more than we were expecting so if anyone would like to have one or two to rear in their back garden for Christmas, then let us know! Tom may well be offering a "Prepare your Christmas Turkey" course later in the year for all those who have always wanted to pluck, gut and prepare their turkey but never had the chance!

We were pleased to be a part of the Greening Alton & Holybourne event on Saturday 7th June - we planted lots of seeds with children emphasising the importance of locally (home) grown food and the animals were a hit. We look forward to attending Andrews Endowed School Fete on Saturday 21st June.

Hope the sow is looking heavily pregnant again and it can only be a matter of weeks (days?) before we have another litter of piglets. Hopefully we will be able to report the happy news in the July "What's On". However, Faith doesn't seem to be showing many signs of producing anything, although she is getting wider around the girth. Tom has whispered the word "sausages" in her ear, but funnily enough, even that hasn't made her more fertile. We are in a dilemma - after having at least 6 chances to get pregnant, should we hand her to the freezer? We know the boar was ok because Hope has become pregnant twice. Can you have Hope & Charity without Faith? Decisions... decisions!! We will keep you updated...

07/06/2008

MCFE were pleased to be a part of the "Greening Alton" event held on Saturday 7th June in the town gardens. We offered free seed planting of radish, beetroot, spinach or salad leaves to encourage children to grow their own. The turkey chicks were on display as well as rabbits, a chicken, a duckling and Gemma the goat helped graze the grass down. With displays on seasonal food, we tried to put the food and farming meesage across. See the gallery for pictures.

03/06/2008

Is it too early to think about Christmas? Christmas Dinner has hatched!
Thirteen turkey chicks made their way into the world on Wednesday 28th May. They will now have some growing to do over the next 6.5 months... See the gallery for picture.

19/05/2008

[Fleeces]

After a day at Northmead school helping the children learn about Food & Farming, the sheep then went ahead with their annual hair cut. Any guesses as to how much the wool in the picture is worth? There are 10 black sacks, filled with 11 fleeces. Use the enquiries page to have a guess!

12/05/2008

Fantastic news! At 6am this morning Defra quietly changed the Bluetongue Protection Zone so that it now covers the whole of the South East of England. This means we are now free to move sheep and goats to all our bookings. For the first time since Foot & Mouth broke out (from a government laboratory) in August 2007 we feel completely liberated - free to move all our animals where we want to! This is great news for us and our clients.
For more information on Bluetongue and the Protection Zones (or if you suffer badly from insomnia) visit DEFRA.
To book us, contact us via the enquiries page. There hasn't been a better time to have a visit from MCFE since last summer!

01/05/2008

All six lambs are now out in the field and are a joy to watch, despite the wet / snowy weather! Crocus, our bottle fed lamb has taken a fancy to the folks at Cedar Vets and has managed to take two separate trips down there in her month long life. We have learnt a lot about entropian and bloat in the process.

Meanwhile, Samuel the goat kid is growing fast and is becoming very cheeky. We milk Gilly, his mother each morning and we now have fresh goat's milk on our cereal and have also made some goat's cheese - mild but delicious!

Ambrose the boar leaves us at the beginning of May and we hope to have more piglets by the end of June. There are rumours that Gordon the albino rabbit (originally bred for the Magic Circle) may become a father soon too - we watch Gordette's hutch with bated breath...

Chicks arrive in the incubator monthly so that we always have young ones to take out with the farm, and we also managed to hatch one duckling - the remaining 7 eggs failed to hatch - so Percy will have to grow up thinking he is a chicken for now! Talking of ducklings, we have had Dot the Duck arrive unceremoniously after being caught on the village pond where apparently she was making too much noise. She has joined the MCFE Menagerie and has been on her debut outing with us to a residential home in Leatherhead as well as several Children's Centres in Basingstoke. She is very easily handled and has behaved herself so far - we don't even seem to notice her making much noise!

There is always something going on down Upper Neatham Mill Lane.... before the floods on 30th April, there were duck races being run on the river (plastic, not real ones!) - I hadn't realised how fun they were! We were also brought a squirrel that had been hit by a car. Unfortunately, there was little we could do for it except give it a hutch to dry off in and it later died.

In between times, we have managed to pick up 5 sacks of rubbish from the footpath between the flyover at Montecchio Way and along to Lower Neatham Mill Lane - I know some of it is washed along from the river when it floods, but a lot is just rubbish thrown from cars on the flyover, which makes me get on my soapbox a bit.

08/04/2008

Unfortunately, and despite our best efforts and 24 hour care, Fuchsia died on Friday morning. She had been stomach tubed several times over the 24 hours she was alive but seemed to get weaker rather than stronger. Eventually we popped her in the oven (low heat, door open) when she wasn't strong enough to lift her head or keep warm. However, she died an hour later. You don't mind getting up throughout the night to help a lamb pull through but some animals seem to have a death wish. Sometimes things don't work out quite the way you would like them to...

However, the other lambs are doing really well and are bouncing around the field full of the joys of spring - including Crocus whom we are continuing to bottle feed. They really are a joy to watch - skipping up and down the field... discovering what grass tastes like... and snow! Samuel, the goat kid is also the sweetest thing I have seen in a long time - if you don't believe me, take a look at the pictures! He constantly causes his mother angst as he does 360 degree jumps in the air, running away from his mother and getting up to all kinds of mischief. She has a job keeping Gemma, her kid from a year ago, under control too!

03/04/2008

Lambing is over for Spring 2008...

At 4am on April 2nd, Colleen gave birth to twins - a ewe named Dahlia and a ram lamb named Mozart. Both are doing well, although Mozart is a lot smaller than Dahlia.

Sometime between 3am & 6.30am on April 3rd Heather gave birth to twin girls - Elderflower & Fuscia... both healthy lambs.

Amaryllis & Bluebell are thriving well and are a joy to watch in the field, jumping around like they have springs in their legs. They are both feeding from their mother. Crocus is still the weakest lamb and is being 100% bottle fed. We believe she knows where mum's teats are but doesn't manage to get anywhere with using them! Her legs are getting straighter and stronger so we hope, with a bit of warm April sun(!) on her back she will become stronger.

The goat kid, Samuel, is also doing very well - cheekily dancing around his mother and generally causing havoc. Apart from what Samuel takes, Gilly is also giving us 1.5 pints of milk a day. We are currently feeding this to Crocus but will eventually try using it ourselves, and perhaps even make some goats cheese.

What is incredible, is despite the fact that Crocus was taken away twice during her first 24 hours to be warmed in our oven, and has been fed on powder milk and goat milk for the past two weeks, when she is put back into the pen with her mother and sisters, her mother licks her off and accepts her back as her own lamb... she can't possibly smell of her own lambs at all! Amanda must be a very good ewe!

24/03/2008

By Stephen Angliss
Hats? Check. Gloves? Check. Extra jumpers? Check. It can only mean one thing... The Mill Cottage Farm Experience has come to town! A steady flow of people, from the very young through to those of more advanced years braved the arctic weather conditions and poured through the gates of Holybourne Theatre with the promise of an exciting and educational experience. Those who entered were able to see, hold and stroke baby lambs and chicks all born less than a week before the Open Day, and very appropriately for the Easter weekend. Helping to bottle feed two of the lambs was a highlight for some keen youngsters. This treat was also backed up by the first ever Mill Cottage Pig Grande Prix, a race which was won in the impressive time of ten seconds flat. (Lewis Hamilton watch out!)

The opportunity to learn about weaving courtesy of Karen from the Hampshire Spinners and Weavers, and to taste locally produced chocolate thanks to Holybourne Handmade Chocolates, also added to the adventure of an exceedingly exciting, eventful and successful day all round.

The Holybourne Guides helped to raise nearly £45 for Marie Curie Cancer Care by planting Sunflower Seeds - demonstrating farming isn't just about animals! Thank you to all those who helped make the day such a success - despite the weather!

Special mention must be made in honour of Gilly the goat, who drew attention away from the Open Day briefly to give birth to the latest addition to Mill Cottage Menagerie - Samuel.

Excitement builds for the next Mill Cottage event, although rumours of a baby penguin to be introduced to the proceedings are yet to be confirmed! Check out our next public event on the Events Page of the website, or why not book us for your own event?

NB: When we were packing up we found a maroon and white umbrella - claimants please contact Sarah or Tom.

20/03/2008

10am: MCFE is fully operational!
Sarah finished full time teaching on Wednesday 19th March 2008 and so bookings are now being taken for the summer term. Things never stop at Mill Cottage - on Wednesday, 12 chicks hatched ready for our Open Day on Monday, and Amanda (the ewe) has been in labour all morning, so it looks like the lambs are on their way... we'll keep you posted!

2pm: Amanda needed a hand in the end, but has produced 3 ewe lambs! One was breach, the next came out back legs first and the final one head first - what a tangle! Their names are Amaryllis, Bluebell and Crocus.

04/03/2008

It hardly seems possible that our Big Event is only a few days away now! See the advert for more details. Mill Cottage Farm Experience is a full time venture from March 20th, along with a bit of Maths Tutoring on the side(!) so we will see where it takes us!

It was been great to see all the plants starting to come back to life after the winter. We are starting to plan the allotment planting for this year so that we can get going straight after our Open Day on Easter Monday.

The ewes which were with Abraham in the autumn are looking suitably rounded and should give birth before Easter weekend. Unfortunately, one aborted on 29th February, losing twins - we aren't really sure why this happened, but it was a sad loss. We now have Abraham's Ladies in the field next door to the house so that we can keep a close eye on them - a large torch from the bedroom window in the middle of the night comes in handy! Gilly the goat is also at the waddling stage so she can't be too far off kidding either.

Tom sold four piglets (as pets, not porkers!) in February. Of the remaining four, we will keep two and the other two are boars and will end up in the freezer. Faith and Hope have Ambrose the boar back with them again (or a look-a-like - I'm not sure it is the same boar as he is much more mild mannered.... maybe Ambrose has learnt to be gentlemanly!) so hopefully there will be more piglets in June/July.

Finally, the chickens and ducks have begun laying well again and so we have built up our egg round in the village, as well as putting the incubators back into action. Hopefully we should have some chicks by Easter Weekend.